Friday, March 15, 2013

Goodbye, Google Reader

If you are reading this on a feed reader you are probably aware that in the near future Google Reader will be shutting down.  If you don't use a feed reader you have probably heard one or more of your friends whining about this online.

I was one of the many Google Reader users who ranted on Facebook over the the past few days and, through friends, tried to figure out which of the other feed readers online I should switch to.  So far I have looked into FIVE readers.  The following is a synopsis of my experience with four of them.  If you could care less about feed readers, maybe check back another day.  There is a Cub Car rally tomorrow so rest assured there will be cute pictures of my boys appearing with their handmade race cars soon.

If you are trying to figure out how you are going to read your blogs after this summer, read on.  Maybe I can help.

My first step in choosing a new feed reader was trying to figure out what I needed beyond "But I want Google Reader to stay!!!  I don't want to learn new things!!!  I want everything online to stay the same always!!!!  Wahhhhhhhhh!!!!"  Here is what I came up with:
  • It had to be easy to figure out
  • The new reader had to be visually appealing and give me pictures with my preview
  • It had to be easy to add and delete blogs
  • It had to be easy to import my feeds
I checked out the following readers:
Brief add-on for Firefox
The Old Reader

Newsblur I eliminated from the running immediately when I read that you only get 64 sites with 10 stories at a time with their free service. That simply won't work for me when I know there are a plethora of free sites to choose from.

I started by exporting my Google Reader Subscriptions and saving them to my computer.

Next, I gave NetVibes a try. I found it very easy to import my subscriptions.  I liked the tabbed browsing option that gave me the option of adding my Twitter, Facebook and email feeds to the browser.  The preview page is customizable with several options, including one that looks very similar to my beloved Google Reader.  The "widget" option is cool if you don't need pictures as you can sort your feeds into a columns if you so desire. It is very easy to add and subtract feeds.

Brief is a Firefox app that is very simple in appearance.  I did not find the controls as intuitive as the start page insists they are and I haven't figured out if there is a way to sort your feeds  or not.( I had to figure out Live Bookmarks via a Yahoo message board to learn how to add feeds, for example)  If you don't follow many feeds and like something you can quickly scroll through (and you are a Firefox user) This might be the feed reader for you.

I really wanted to like Feedly.  It is the prettiest feed reader out of the bunch I tried.  The magazine-style layout is really neat at first, but then I realized there was something sinister going on.  I felt like it was choosing what to put on the front page based on the popularity of the blog so bigger blogs were being featured while those of my friends were being shunted down to the bottom of the list.  I kept having the nagging feeling that I was missing stuff when I visited the site.  I guess I like that list on my sidebar to go along with the preview page. Also, since you sign in to Feedly with your Google account I wonder what will happen to my subscriptions when Reader goes away, as I didn't import my .xml file to them--they just grabbed it from Google.

I signed up to try out The Old Reader based on good reviews from my friends, but I fear it is a victim of it's own new found popularity right now.  I am currently 19659 on their list to import my subscription file.  I wonder how long the growing pains will last with them.  They have a cute mom-and-pop feel, but dude, I want a new reader NOW!

At the moment I am liking Brief and Netvibes the most, but I think Netvibes will probably win my ultimate feed-reading affections, especially since Netvibes was very easy to access from my tablet as well as my desktop. None of these readers are Windows phone compatible so I use Feed Reader Free on my phone.

Do you use a feed reader?  Which one?


Glogirl said...

Thanks for sharing! I use google reader and was disappointed to hear it will be no more after July 1! After your review of different readers, I decided to switch my RSS feeds to Netvibes.

TheLifestyleUK said...

Thanks for the info:) I have no idea what I will do! If I'm honest I'm not sure I understand.....